Does anyone know where to get authentic mole paste? Not the Dona Maria stuff available at some Spanish groceries. On food travel shows, I see different kinds of fresh mole pastes for sale at markets, but I can't find anything like that available in the US.
If you live in a community with a substantial Mexican community check your local Mexican/Latin markets. They often have mole paste. If you don't live close to a Mexican community, consider making your own. It's not really all that difficult and most of the ingredients are not difficult to source. The mole recipes in Susana Trilling's cookbook Season's of my Heart are easy, the directions clear and the results excellent.
It depends greatly on which mole you are seeking. Each state in Mexico has their own take on this sauce/condiment. Even within most states, there are regional differences, and maybe even households in the same city, will have their personal take on it.
That said, most Latin markets in the Phoenix Area have various preps in jars, or in the refrigerated foods section. Also, the Dona Maria brand offers about 4 variations on the mole recipes. Here, that is considered mainstream, as it is in almost every supermarket. The others are usually not represented beyond the neighborhood markets.
Lately, I've seen several other versions at CostPlus World Market, Whole Foods and even Williams Sonoma.
We've tried many, but my tennis-doubles partner's mom's personal recipe was the best. She was from Monterey and used peanut butter, and no chocolate. Though I have no problem with the various chocolate recipes, hers was just the best.
It seems to be becoming more popular, so some of minor producers might get more exposure.
Where in the US are you located? Do you have any Mexican restaurants in your area? Have you ever talked to any of the cooks about their moles? That is where I'd start, and say something like, "I know that your mole is the best, but if I wanted to get something that was close, for a grocery, where would you suggest that I look?" Of course, it would be better to ask this in Spanish.
Oops, just found your location.
re: Bill Hunt
There is no such thing as "authentic" mole any more than there is authentic ketsup, mustard, curry or barbecue sauce. As Bill Hunt has pointed out there are as many regional variations as there are regions. Think of mole as Mexican curry paste. Every cook has his or her variation suuperimposed on the region slant of the mixture. I suggest you just buy Dona Maria's dark mole and modify to your taste- add cinnamon, coffee, chocolate, cumin etc until you reach a pleasing taste to you. There is a store in San Miguel de Allende which mainly just sells moles and condiments. We have a home there and often tinker with what we buy to bring it to our taste. Mole, after all, simply means ground (moler=to grind) spice. I find it easier here in the states to begin with a prepared mole product and modify it, just as I often do to curry powders or bottled barbecue sauce.
I really like the "curry paste" analogy. It fits very well.
The rec. for modification is also a good one too. I'd guess that we have a few dozen recipes in various books here, and none is identical. As with many other recipes, my wife will borrow from A, a touch from B and dash from C, until it suits her palate.
To say they vary like curries is probably stretching the comparison. A recent Indian cookbook is titled '660 Curries', on the other hand there are 'only' 7 classic moles of Oaxaca:
* mole negro
* mole colorado
* mole coloradito
* mole amarillo
* mole verde
* chíchilo negro
* mancha manteles
To refine that statement, 'curry' can refer to a wide variety of Indian stews (and derivatives in other countries). They vary by spice, and by 'solid' ingredients (meats, vegetables, etc).
'Moles' might be better be thought of sauces. The meat such as chicken or turkey, is usually cooked separately in a lightly flavored liquid. The sauce is made from a base of ground nuts, chiles, bread/tortillas, and spices, thinned with the meat broth. The meat is then served with the sauce, as opposed to being cooked in it.
Obviously there are more versions of mole than just those Oaxacan 7, since other regions have their versions, plus they can vary with the cook. Still the category isn't as broad as the Indian one.
Mancha manteles (table-cloth stainers) may be closer to a curry, in the sense that the meat and fruit are stewed with mole sauce.
I assume you mean Angela's Cafe. Yeah, the Boston board has good things to say about the place.
BTW, comparing moles to curries was probably a stretch but I was taking into account the endless variation possible using so many varied ingredients and the likely micro-regional recipes that may not be "formally recognized" as classic dishes.